Saturday, 3 January 2015

Battle lines

Kindle Unlimited (KU) attracted negative press coverage 
as indie authors saw what was happening to their sales. The general bad feeling floating around on the internet since Kindle Unlimited’s launch finally made it to the front page of the New York Times last Sunday“If you’re not an author with a slavish fan following, you’re in a lot of trouble” according to self-published author Bob Mayer “Everyone already has a ton of things on their Kindle they haven’t opened".

“What is now being proven is that market is not infinitely elastic,” publishing industry consultant Mike Shatzkin wrote on his blog on New Year’s Eve. “It seems likely that the low-priced indie authors are disproportionately affected by KU. Who bought indie author ebooks in the first place? The price-sensitive reader! Who switches from buying individual ebooks to the subscription service first? The price-sensitive reader! In other words, the subscription service offering appeals most to the same audience as those who read indie-published ebooks.”

Meanwhile, Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader wondered whether ebook subscription services are only a problem for indie authors or whether they will be a problem for traditional publishers as well. Of course, one of the main reasons that publishers feared ebook subscriptions in the first place was that they worried such services would cannibalize individual paid sales.  

Like all the other self-published authors, I noticed my sales were dwindling and there were few KU payments to compensate. So I unchecked the box that allows my titles to be read by Kindle Unlimited subscribers, only to find that it will take 90 days to become effective. And, of course, I was only 4 days into the next 90 days period, so I can look forward to poor sales until March. 

If Amazon continues to favour the reader over the author, one wonders what will happen down the line. Authors will no doubt pull out of Amazon altogether. There are other places to self-publish. As long as readers seek the cheapest form of reading, they will continue to use Amazon - until the stock available becomes so mediocre they too will go elsewhere.


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